Ruling and opposition lawmakers on Tuesday criticised the proposed FY23 budget for not having enough measures to reduce the use of tobacco and single-use polythene bags.
Taking part in the general discussion on the proposed budget for the FY2022-23 in Parliament on Tuesday, they also came down heavily on the proposed amnesty to bring back laundered money.
Awami League lawmaker Saber Hossain Chowdhury said the target of tobacco control is not being met by increasing the tax on cigarettes every year, as the profit of the companies is increasing.
He said that the goal of the government to make Bangladesh tobacco-free is not to be fulfilled in this way.
Saber Hossain said, "The prime minister has announced to make Bangladesh tobacco-free by 2040. But at the rate at which we are moving, we will not be tobacco-free even in 2080. So where is the roadmap? What have we done to implement the prime minister's announcement?"
Highlighting the flaws in tobacco control policy, Saber Hossain said, "We increase the price of cigarettes every year and impose taxes on them. In this way, the companies are earning more without increasing the cost of production. The government is losing Tk3,000 crore."
"Our taxation policy… who is on the board of directors of the British American Tobacco company? The government's share here is 8%. But 5 of the 11 directors of the company are government officials," he added.
In his speech, Jatiya Party Lawmaker Shameem Haider Patwary termed the proposed budget plastic-friendly, big business-friendly and tobacco company-friendly.
Although the government on numerous occasions discouraged the use of plastic, terming it a great threat to the environment, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal in the FY2022-23 budget has proposed withdrawing the existing 5% supplementary duty on all types of polythene and plastic bags.
Shameem Haider Patwary denounced the proposal, saying it would encourage the use of environmentally hazardous single-use polybags.
On business taxes, he said, "Corporate houses in the budget got tax cuts, but what about the SMEs [small and medium enterprises]?"
Terming the budget not related to and not coordinated with reality, he said the budget supports the Fourth Industrial Revolution but raises taxes on digital devices.
"The budget will intensify pressure on the middle-income people. Citizens who became poor during the pandemic and low-income people will also suffer. There should be more allocation in social safety," he noted.
BNP lawmaker Md Zahidur Rahman lambasted the proposed amnesty to bring back laundered money, saying, "It is nothing but incitement to corruption and money laundering."
"Some influential people have syphoned huge sums of money abroad in the past 14 years, and this budget has given them the opportunity to legitimise the wealth. This is not acceptable by any means, be it political, economic or moral. This decision should be cancelled immediately," he added.
The member of the parliament also said that if the health allocation could be used properly, people's burden due to huge health spending might be reduced.